Book Notice: The Urban World and the First Christians

Book Notice: The Urban World and the First Christians December 8, 2018

Steve Walton, Paul R. Trebilco, and David W. J. Gill (eds.)
The Urban World and the First Christians
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017.
Available at

In the tradition of The First Urban Christians by Wayne Meeks, this edited volume explores the relationship between the earliest Christians and the urban environs of the Greco-Roman world. The contributors look at how the urban physical, cultural, and social environments of the ancient Mediterranean basin affected the ways in which early Christianity progressed. They then turn to how the earliest Christians thought and theologized in their engagement with cities.

The book is the product of a conference organised bythe Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, and there’s a good summary of this book at Eerdword which I’d recommend.

This is a hard book to summarize, it covers a lot of terrain, and all the essays recognize the importance of urban environs for the early churches of the first century. I particularly enjoyed the essays by Volker Rabens, Ian Paul, Steve Walton, Paul Trebilco, Joan Taylor and Helen Morris.

Here’s the TOC:

I. Early Christianity in Its Ancient Urban Setting(s)

Complicating the Category of Ethnos toward Poliscentrism: A Possible Way Forward within Second Temple Ethnography
Anthony Le Donne

Paul, Pentecost, and the Nomosphere: The Final Return to Jerusalem in the Acts of the Apostles
Matthew Sleeman

Paul’s Caesarea
Joan E. Taylor

Early Christianity in Its Colonial Contexts in the Provinces of the Eastern Empire
David Gill

Diaspora Jewish Attitudes to Metropolis: Philo and Paul on Balanced Personalities, Split Loyalties, Jerusalem, and Rome
Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer

Paul’s Mission Strategy in the Urban Landscape of the First-Century Roman Empire
Volker Rabens

“Outside the City Gate”: Center and Periphery in Paul’s Preaching in Philippi
Cédric Brélaz

The City as Foil (Not Friend nor Foe): Conformity and Subversion in 1 Corinthians 12:12–31
Helen Morris

Engaging—or Not Engaging—the City: Reading 1 and 2 Timothy and the Johannine Letters in the City of Ephesus
Paul R. Trebilco

Urbanization and Literate Status in Early Christian Rome: Hermas and Justin Martyr as Examples
Chris Keith

Alexandria ad Aegyptum: The City hTat Inspired a Polyphony of Early ChristianTheologies
Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski

II. Early Christian Thinking about Cities

City of God or Home of Traitors and Killers?: Jerusalem according to Matthew
Anders Runesson

Heavenly Citizenship and Earthly Authorities: Philippians 1:27 and 3:20 in Dialogue with Acts 16:11–40
Steve Walton

Spiritual Geographies of the City: Exploring Spiritual Landscapes in Colossae
Paul Cloke

Re-Placing 1 Peter: From Place of Origin to Constructions of Space
David G. Horrell

Repairing Social Vertigo: Spatial Production and Belonging in 1 Peter
Wei Hsien Wan

Cities of Revelation: A Tale of Two (Kinds of) Cities
Ian Paul


Research on Urban Christian Communities: Looking Ahead
David W. J. Gill and Paul R. Trebilco


Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment